Children's Rights Council

Montgomery County Public Defender's Office

Tribune Broadcasting


Children's Rights Council

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,

The Washington Center has given me tools that I desperately searched for in Iowa. The program has introduced me to a window of opportunities and let me grab those I found important for my future. When I first arrived to DC I had expectations and goals I wanted to meet. However, as the program progressed my goals and expectations developed into more complex personal growth and future career paths. This program tapped into my deepest thoughts, which I only thought about in Iowa, and gave me a way to take those ideas out of my head, talk about them with others and see what steps I had to take to make my ideas a reality.

One requirement of the Washington Center is to take a class during the semester. It is this class that played a major role in the shaping of my experience here in Washington DC. The class dealt with using non-violence as a way to find solutions to problems; problems such as hate crimes, gang membership, war to just name a few. It is this class that provided me with authors who thought the same way about violence as I did. Not only that, but it is in this class that I met a lady by the name of Kathy Kidd whom I contacted after class and began to work with. Kathy Kidd who works for The Peace Alliance which is a non-profit organization working very hard to establish a United States Department of Peace; not to mention, is also trying to give the word “peace” a fresh new look and meaning. My academic goal was to apply what I learned in class to my life and to not always go with what the majority said. I have definitely accomplished both of those goals. The ideas and connections I have made during the class have helped me put this puzzle of emotions and ideas together. For the second goal, any time I said Non-Violence, or peace to someone and then further explained what it is that I wanted from this world, I was always going against what the majority thought. It have truly been amazed just how little hope people have for what humans are capable of; it amazed me just how much people believed that change for the better, that involved everyone, was an impossible and idealistic goal in life.

When it comes to my professional growth I have defiantly learned what path I want to take and which I do not with my profession. While working with the Children’s Rights Council my supervisor, David Levy, answered a lot of my questions when it comes to the non-profit world. In addition, while working for Mr. Levy I was given a chance to sit in meetings, give presentations and just witness the day-to-day activities which helped me shape my ideas on how my own non-profit organization will be managed. My professional goals were to always have a challenging project on hand, to take initiative and to be a role model for others. While working for the Children’s Rights Council I have worked on about five or six different projects and had never just done nothing. As for being a role model, Mr. Levy has told me that they have never had an intern like myself and wanted me to stay with them as a paid employee. I feel that my experience with the Children’s Rights Council has helped me understand what steps to take in order to have a strong, successful and long lasting non-profit organization.

As I mentioned earlier, my involvement with the Peace Alliance has been a major civic engagement contribution I have made while in Washington DC. It was through being involved with them that I was able to do lobbying on the Hill and also attend non-violence National Student Peace Alliance conference in Boston, where I met a number of very influential leaders. There were individuals who have won a noble peace prize; Gandhi’s grandson was there as well as music artists who were working for non-violence. The involvement with the Peace Alliance had also given me tools and more direct ideas about what I could do to make this world more peaceful and understanding. The networking I was able to do while at the conference in Boston has given me great contacts for the future.

My other two goals were to be memorable and articulate about the cause the Peace Alliance represented; I have met both of them. During the lobbying or the presentations I have given about the Peace alliance many objections came my way, so I had to know what the Peace Alliance saw as their ultimate goal in order to answer those objections. When it comes to being memorable Katy Kidd and I have made sure to not loose track of one another. Being involved with the Peace Alliance has truly made my experience here in DC that much better.

When it comes to my personal growth I feel that I have a much thicker skin because of the different lobbying events I went to. I have learned to go with the flow and not give up if someone at first was not giving me a time of day. Do not get me wrong, I have had that characteristic before but it was strengthened while in Washington DC because I was talking to politicians and other influential figures. The cold shoulder from those figures has a different effect on me then other individuals I encountered. Another component of the Washington Center was to attend the Presidential Lecture Series every Monday during the semester. One particular PLS will always stand in my mind; it was the one during which Norman Maneta gave a speech about his childhood and current work. It was his story that made me realize that even people in power have felt emotions I felt during certain experience of my life. It had made me want to never forget that no matter whom a person is there is a potential that life has tested them as well and that we all have a common understand of emotions, no matter what they are. My personal goals were the two latter points and also to not stress about my future and to improve my knowledge of the non-profit world. The non-stressing over my future I am still working on but am getting better. When it comes to improving my knowledge of the non-profit world I feel like I have a good grasp on it.

In conclusion, the Washington Center’s structure of letting its participants make their own choices of what their experience is going to be like for the semester has resulted in my growth professionally, academically, leadership wise, personally and as well as with my civic engagement. My experience has given me the necessary tools and a way of thinking to make my non-profit organization into reality. But most importantly, this experience has shown me that if life does not take me the direction I have planned that there are other options out there for me. The Washington Center has been a great eye opener for what else is going to come my way if I put my best food forward and continue to set goals and aspirations for myself.


 Montgomery County Public Defender's Office

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,

I am writing in regards to my internship for the summer of 2007 with the Washington Center in Washington D.C. As an intern with the Washington Center I have been able to achieve more dreams than I thought possible. This summer I worked as an investigative intern at the Montgomery Public Defender’s Office. Prior to starting my internship I developed a list of professional, academic, personal and civic goals that I have used as a guide to help me make the most of my summer internship experience.

First, I would like to discuss my internship and the experience I have gained as an investigative intern. The Montgomery Public Defender’s Office in Maryland was created in 1972. The purpose of the Public Defender’s Office is to provide legal counsel for people who cannot afford legal representation. The Office provides assistance to indigent adults as well as juveniles in proceedings before the District Court of Maryland and Circuit Courts. The Office of Public Defender represents a defendant while he or she is in custody, during interrogation, and at preliminary hearings, trial and appeal.

As an investigative intern I was assigned to a team which included a supervising attorney, four other attorneys, a social worker and three other investigative interns. If an attorney needed help from the interns he or she would write an investigative request. The investigative request entailed what a specific case was about, what allegedly happened, what the defendant was being charged with, then had a list of things that needed to be investigated or get done. These tasks include delivering subpoenas, going to crime scenes, taking statements from witnesses or victims, and talking to defendants. We also have had several opportunities to go to court to watch cases that we have worked on.

My first academic goal was to gain a better understanding on how the criminal justice system works specifically with understanding how laws are formulated. My internship gave me the opportunity to understand criminal law much better. To gain more knowledge on this area I reviewed the Constitution and looked at law journals. The way I received the most information was by talking to attorneys and law clerks to see what types of cases they are working on the laws involved in those cases. For example, one of the attorneys I worked for was talking about taser laws and restrictions in the state of Maryland for police officers. This was interesting because there have been allegations that police have been abusing their power and misusing tasers to apprehend people. This attorney is currently dealing with such a case. This made me interested in seeing the laws dealing with the subject and how they were developed to protect defendants but still giving police enough power to get their job done.

Another academic goal of mine was gain an understanding of what motivates people to commit crimes. Although I developed several methods in my LOS to achieve this goal I have to admit I did not fulfill those specific methods. I found that the best way to understand why people were committing crimes was to actually interact with the defendants and attend trails. I was able to interact with several defendants whose cases I was investigating. All of these defendants are normal people. They are not bad people but typically got involved in a bad situation that they couldn’t get out of. Some don’t have a lot of money and resorted to stealing. I dealt with several people who are innocent but got involved in situations they didn’t think things through and are now paying the price. I now know that you can’t stereotype people since many of them are normal good people (reword).

My final academic goal was better understand the importance role of the Public Defender within the criminal justice system. The best way I felt to meet this goal was to talk to public defender’s themselves. Many of the attorneys at the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office went to some of the top law schools in the country such as Georgetown and Duke University. Attending such law schools could have lead to lucrative careers in law. Despite this fact they chose to pursue a career in public defense. One attorney at the office had his own private practice for several years but chose to leave it and become a public defender. He made this decision because he believes that no matter how much money a person has they still have the right to a good attorney who will do whatever it takes to keep them out of jail or get a fair sentence for the crime they committed. I admire attorneys such as this. Attitudes such as this demonstrate how big of an impact public defenders have and shows their importance within the criminal justice system.

My first citizenship goal was to become more involved in the debate over immigration. To achieve my goal I read the Washington Post to keep up-to-date on the debate of this issue and to see what was happening with the immigration bill going through Congress. One of my goals was to attend a Congressional hearing over this subject. I have to admit it was hard to find time to fit this into my schedule and I was unable to attend a Congressional hearing. But I did find other ways to get involved in the debate. For example, I talked to people to get their view on immigration. One person I talked to was my roommates whose Mother immigrated to the United States from Costa Rica. Another person I talked to was an attorney who works in the Public Defender’s Office. Many of his clients are immigrants to the U.S. and some of them are illegal. He feels that these immigrants should be given a chance in the United States because they are trying to make a better life for themselves and their family.

Another citizenship goal of mine was to volunteer at a local organization. My roommates and I received an email from a Washington Center resident assistant who regularly volunteers at Loaves and Fishes. This is a nonprofit organization that provides meals to homeless people. The R.A. was setting up a day for a group of TWC students to go and volunteer with this organization. My roommates and I decided that we wanted to go and help. Part of duties was helping to prepare the food, serve it to the people who came to the center and then help clean up afterwards. After this experience my roommates and I decided that we wanted to continue helping at Loaves and Fishes and decided to go there a couple more times on our own.

My final goal in this area was to get involved in the community I’m living in by helping in events that will benefit children in need. I really wanted to go and help at events that were dedicated to helping kids however due to my schedule I found it difficult to find a good time to fulfill such a goal. I still wanted to do something so my roommate and decided to donate some of our things to Goodwill. When I came to Washington I brought a lot clothes and backpacks that I haven’t even used. I thought it would be a good idea to donate these things to people who don’t have these items. When it gets closer to the end of the summer I plan on donating my blanket and sheets to Goodwill since I won’t need them when I return home.

Another aspect I wanted to work on was making personal goals for myself. One of my primary goals was to learn to manage my time better. Usually when I am at school I am usually running late to class and procrastinating on assignments. To overcome this and accomplish my goal each week my teammates and I at work would plan out our weeks ahead of time. Every Monday we had Washington Center Activities since we couldn’t work a full day my teammates and I would meet in the morning to plan our week out and figure out which tasks needed to be completed first and which could wait. Each night I would get my things for work and class together so I would not run late the next morning. I believe doing these tasks helped me meet my goal.

My next personal goal was to budget my money better. Each week I tried to keep track of my spending and set a budget for how much I can spend each week. This was the hardest goal to accomplish for me. Being in a city such as Washington there are many things that I wanted to do such as go to museums and go out to eat to different restaurants. In order to do so I needed to spend money. To make sure I did not spend over $100 I would write down how much I spent each day detailing what I bought and where I bought it. I believe that setting a budget for myself and keeping track of how much I spent allowed me to become more responsible with money.

Finally, my last personal goal was to decide if I wanted to pursue a career in public defense after my internship is completed. To attain my goal I talked to the attorneys in the office to get insight on how they feel about their careers. In my opinion the attorneys that I worked for enjoy their jobs. Another way I approached this goal was taking advantage of attending trials during my free time at work. Seeing attorneys during trial was a great experience because you can see how passionate they are about their jobs and defending their clients. Although this summer gave me good insight I still feel like I need more experience to determine what field of law I would like to go into eventually.

Coming to Washington I had no prior working experience which is why one of my professional goals was to transition into the world of responsible working adults. While working at the public defender’s office I realized that there would be days were I had to work longer hours. I believed I worked on my professionalism by leaving my personnel problems at the door and not bring them up while I was working. Another way I achieved this goal was by owning up to my mistakes. If I did make a mistake I was willing to get advice from the people I work with on how to do my job better. I believe that following through on these methods allowed me to feel a part of the professional environment and prepared me for future jobs.

Another professional goal of mine was to create a personal network. To accomplish this I got to know some of the attorneys in the office as well as the other interns and law clerks. I feel that I will be able to keep in contact with these people which will help me in the future. The attorneys and law clerks have either completed law school or are in law school right now. I have been able to go to them for advice on preparing for law school and they have helped me understand the application process better. I know that in the future I would be able to go to them again for advice concerning law school and possibly finding a job one day.

My final goal was to focus on problem solving, achievement, and excellence. At school I often get discouraged by a bad grade or a bad teacher. I felt making this goal would help me overcome this flaw and would make me see the bigger picture. There were some weeks were my team was overwhelmed with investigative requests from attorneys and I would become stressed out. Making this goal help me learn how to manage and organize projects. My team and I would read through our investigative requests and decide which task was a priority and which could wait. I observed how the attorneys I worked for used their leadership skills to achieve things. They often have to deal with setbacks from prosecutors but they don’t let that discourage them and get them done. They still know they have a client to help. Finally, I established a good relationship with the interns that I work for. Having a good relationship with my teammates made me feel comfortable to ask them for help when I needed it.

My internship with the Washington Center has given me the confidence to pursue a career in law. This opportunity has given me good insight into a world that otherwise I would know little about. An important part of my internship was interacting with different types of people which allowed me to get a different perspective on life then I’m use to. I took each task that was delegated to me seriously and worked hard to represent the University of Iowa well. I hope that you will consider this summer and the time and hard work spent in Washington for credit at the University of Iowa. Thank you.


Tribune Broadcasting

Dear David Fitzgerald:

The Washington Center’s mission is to perform “vital role in service to society as a whole, developing the workforce of the future and encouraging all of its participants to be informed, public-spirited and civically engaged.” The framework is aligned as such that we are exposed to speakers and events that enlighten us in the above categories. It is now my duty to defend the college credit I will be receiving for expanding my social and spiritual consciousness.

My time as an intern at Tribune Broadcasting Company has allowed me to build a resume of skills, friends and experiences that will allow me to better live my life as a citizen of the world. I am confident in my ability to adapt to any business setting and take a short time in acquiring the skills necessary to succeed. While important, this is not the most crucial finding during my stay in Washington. It became apparent to me that many consider themselves “informed” human beings, especially in the news industry, where that is your job. But being informed does not mean action, or activism at that. It is but another game as is politics, war and democracy. I count this realization as the most valuable of my time in Washington, for it is from this point I will redirect my efforts as an earthian.

If you’ve never seen a man in an emergency room seizing from a drug overdose, lying in a puddle of his own vomit and urine, you’ve never been to an inner city ER. My chin gashed open from a bicycle wreck, the man lie unconscious under the stressed fluorescent lighting, Fox news blaring on a television, while other patients watched idly, waiting for their names to be called. Nurses passed by, clipboards in hand, bags under eyes. My own privileged life yelling out at me I realized, as I’ve realized many times before that I had a choice. Go with the flow of haphazardly profitable lifestyles, and run the risk of losing myself or dedicate my efforts and conscience to improving the humanity around me. I’m not an earth-shattering man, but certain things I cannot let go of have become illuminated and I dare not let them out of my sight for a second for fear that they will vanish.

The first of these things is embracing a lifestyle of nonviolence. My studies have given me the great fortune of crossing paths with former Washington Post Columnist Coleman McCarthy. He is wrinkled man whose passions in life are made clear by just one encounter. He wears navy blue sweaters and has a pair large glasses setting atop his nose that are the same color of the bicycle grease on his pant leg. Coleman taught me that which has been all but abandoned by the education system of America: nonviolence is effective. So I have made small steps to align my lifestyle in accordance with the radical mission of not hurting others and reducing my environmental footprint upon the planet. This has mostly been accomplished by adjusting my transportation habits. While it is easy not to drive a car because I do not own one, I have not ridden any type of fossil fuel consuming vehicle for over a month and half.

One of my goals when moving to DC was to become a tutor at a public school. A lack of time and sluggish bureaucratic processes I was unable to fulfill this goal. However, I was able to volunteer at a So Others Might Eat (SOME) service center. SOME provides food, shelter and more importantly a voice for the impoverished of America. It was inspiring to see ideological activism. More importantly, was the way in which help was given to those in need. It was done in a way that retained and even lifted the self-respect of those in need. After observing and being part of the program I can conclude that maintaining the dignity of those you serve is vital.

I have expanded myself and will continue to until the end of my life. The quest to be a decent human being will always remain at the forefront of my journeys, as it has throughout this particular one. I am, without a doubt, prepared for whatever the future has to offer.